Shane Long is not a name you would have automatically thought of when Brendan Rodgers said he was looking for a striker this January. However, the national dailies in the UK have suggested that the Anfield club could be ready to pay £12 million for him which would be an absolute steal.
Long has pace to burn and this seems to be one of the main points of the Liverpool attack this season. Long is very similar to Luis Suarez in the respect that he is not physically massive but he is a very fast and very busy player, always looking to hustle the opposition defence and force them into making a mistake.
He is almost a diet version of the Uruguay striker and can benefit massively from being in and around Suarez on a daily basis. This would also help to take some of the pressure away from Suarez and give Liverpool a like for like replacement when Suarez is not available for selection.
Long has played for some very decent teams during his career but he has not enjoyed being a high profile striker at a massive club like Liverpool. A move for him could have a beneficial effect in the respect that it would inspire him to produce a much better record than his current 13 goals in 36 games for West Brom.
He seems to be a Liverpool sort of player; good on the ball, willing to drop off to receive and give a pass, able to play wider in the attack if needed and he genuinely seems to be a very well liked person and player which is the sort of unity that Brendan Rodgers is going for.
The sticking point in this deal is going to be the cost. Steve Clarke has already said that Long is not for sale to Liverpool or to anyone. He only joined the club from Reading in the summer of 2011 which means Liverpool are going to have to buy out the rest of his contract.
Considering his current form in a West Brom shirt, five Premier League goals as well as two in the Capital One Cup, the price of £12 million could quickly become inflated because the club will consider him as good as, if not better, the £15 million rated Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea.
Liverpool also need to consider the fact that Long has a reputation as being a confidence player as his scoring record suggests. He scored 44 goals for Reading in his 95 appearances to go with his West Brom record and he is extremely prolific and effective when he’s in form and confident so it will be a job for the club to ensure he’s more than a passenger during the rough spells.
If they manage to get him for £12 million then they will be laughing.
image: © Ben Sutherland